Our ears play a huge role in our ability to balance. They not only help us stay on two feet, but allow us to manage our spatial awareness, sense of movement and where we are physically in a room. Ear disorders can have a tremendous impact on an individual’s balance and ability to navigate the world around them. Read on more to find out about how hearing changes can cause balance issues.

What Parts of the Ear Affect Balance?

The ear contains a system known as the vestibular labyrinth, which contains a network of tissue and bone that supports our balance function. The most important parts of this system involved in balance are the three inner ear canal systems.

Each one maintains a specific orientation:

  • Up and down
  • Side to side
  • Tilt

The movement is interpreted by the direction of fluids in the ear canal, which trigger tiny hair receptors that then transmit the orientation directly to the brain.

The ears work together with the eyes, the brain and sensory neurons called proprioceptors throughout your body, to form your sense of balance. If the inner ear or these tiny hairs become damaged, this can impact your balance and may cause hearing loss. Any deviation from your normal hearing can lead to balance issues.

What Are the Ear Disorders That Can Cause Balance Issues?

Not all those with hearing loss will be impacted by balance issues. However, there are some particular ear conditions that can cause hearing loss:

  • Labyrinthitis: When your inner ear becomes inflamed, impacting the ability of your ear canals to act as expected.
  • Meniere’s disease: When your vestibular system is subject to high levels of pressure.
  • Perilymph fistula: When fluid from the inner ear leaks into the middle ear, impacting the ear canal’s ability to interpret movement.

All of these conditions can lead to dizziness, nausea, balance issues and hearing loss. There are also many other conditions that can cause hearing loss and balance issues, such as low blood pressure, ear infections and even cancer.

What Are the Side Effects of Balance Disorders?

Balance disorders have a host of different side effects that make it challenging for individuals to navigate their daily lives, including:

  • Balance issues: The individual may find it hard to balance and complete daily tasks without stumbling, using support or falling over.
  • Dizziness: Those with an ear balance disorder might feel dizziness, a sense of swaying or feel that they are spinning.
  • Sickness: Sensations of dizziness can often lead to feeling sick or physical nausea.
  • Vertigo: Individuals with balance issues might feel vertigo even during minor tasks, like sitting up or getting out of bed.
  • Hearing loss: Individuals with labyrinthitis or Meniere’s disease may experience hearing loss.

The frequency and level of these symptoms will depend largely on the type of balance issues experienced.

How Can I Find Out If I Have a Balance Disorder?

If you are experiencing hearing loss and balance issues, you should first consult your audiologist. Many of these conditions can be resolved completely with a comprehensive treatment plan.

Your doctor may advise that you visit an audiologist if your condition has caused permanent or extended periods of hearing loss. At this point, if you visit our compassionate and knowledgeable team of audiologists at Sommerville Audiology, we will be able to advise on hearing tests and hearing aid styles that can help.

An audiologist’s role is to provide expertise on hearing tests and hearing instruments. If you have a balance disorder but do not have hearing loss, it is unlikely that you will need to visit an audiologist.

Sommerville Audiology Can Help with Hearing Loss Due to a Balance Disorder

If you believe you have hearing loss as a side effect of your balance disorder, we can help you improve your range of hearing. We may recommend one of the following hearing aid styles, depending on the severity of your hearing loss:

  • In the ear (ITE): ITE hearing aids sit in the outer bowl of the ear.
  • Behind the ear (BTE): BTE hearing aids sit on top of, or behind the ear and sound is directed into the ear via a tube or wire.

To find out more about Sommerville Audiology & Hearing Aid Center, contact us at 586-298-3788 for comprehensive support and advice for your hearing loss.

Tags: hearing & balance